tv Deutsche Welle European Journal LINKTV January 18, 2013 4:30am-5:00am PST
>> hello and a very warm welcome to "european journal" coming to you from dw studios in brussels. very good to have you with us. here's what is coming up in the next half hour. france -- why a church cannot be turned into a mosque. czech republic -- how german electricity is blocking the grid. and austria -- meet this billionaire, the new man in politics. france has the largest muslim community in all of europe. every 12 person in france is a follower of islam today, and the
numbers are growing. more people are currently reading the koran than the bible. the number of christians in europe has been rapidly declining. the protestant church says today it attracts fewer and fewer people, resulting in an empty church pews in many places, but what do you do when a church building is no longer needed? do you tear it down or give it a new purpose? some disused churches becomes hotels or restaurants, but there are limits to the new uses that church authorities are willing to accept. in germany, for instance, representatives of the catholic and protestant churches have officially recommended not to turn churches into mosques. one village in france has discovered that this can certainly be a delicate issue. >> there's a small catholic community in the heart of france that has too little money and too many churches.
the church of the holy virgin is located in historic town center. a few hundred meters away stands the church of st. john the baptist. a few blocks away, we find st. john's a listing where there has been no resident church for ages. and then there's the church of saint aloysius. >> we have six churches here in all, but the number of residents as gone from 35,000 to 27,000, and the number of practicing catholics has sharply declined in the last three decades. this church was consecrated in 1955, but we do not need it anymore, so we want to sell it.
>> they found a prospective buyer right away -- the local muslim community needed a place to worship. they have plenty of members. right now, they pray in a 1- family house that is billed to the brim. it is not just the old immigrants who work in the factories that come here. they are joined by their children and grandchildren. few want to be interviewed. buying the church is a controversial issue. >> we simply do not have enough space. no proper place to pray. we are packed in. >> it was not really a matter of going out to buy a church. we just want to enlarge our congregation. >> the possibility that a french church could become a maas made headlines in the french
conservative media and triggered outrage. muslims were suddenly revile on intenet forums for expropriating christian space. but father kraut was pleased to have a buyer for the church. >> when muslims say they do not have enough space to pray with proper dignity, then i think it is a good idea to turn a church into a place for muslims to worship. >> the priest asked his congregation about selling the church, including those who still come to st. aloysius once a week to pray in a side chapel. most of the parishioners agree with the sale. >> i think it would be a good thing for the church to be used for prayer again. christians and muslims have the same god. it is not the same religion, but
we have much in common. >> but others could not accept the idea of muslims praying in a former christian church. >> i think it would be better if they set up a mosque someplace else in town. if the christians keep giving ground, we will lose our faith and identity. after all, france is a christian country. >> the sale of the church would not have had a happy ending. for the archdiocese responsible for the church got involved and decided instead to sell the church to a charity. the bishop justified the decision by saying the paris- based charity was nondenominational. this even though it is called the fraternity of st. aloysius and is dedicated to the same st. as the church.
they are collecting donations to buy the building. their motto "stop the mosque" makes their position clear. >> we are opposed to converting the church into a mosque. christenings, weddings, and funerals were once held there. now that will all be wiped away. the church will be something else entirely. we have gathered thousands of signatures from all over france and from canada and switzerland. some people even send money. most say "bravo. keep it up." >> the archdiocese is not talking to the media. the priest says he feels the fraternity went behind his back and feels that the rift between christians and muslims in france will only be worsened by the group's campaign. >> i disagree strongly with using slogans like that to raise
money. i am bitter about it coming to this. >> the local muslim community is disappointed. this lawyer did not expect this kind of response. he says it would be possible to convert a church into a mosque because the building would not have to remain a mosque for all eternity. >> i thought religion was supposed to promote peace. how could they stoop so low end use insults like that? they sped in your face just because you are a muslim. you are treated like a terrorist. it is regrettable. >> the fraternity of st. aloysius has been given six months to raise the money to buy the church, and the chances are good that they will succeed, but they should not expect help from the parish priest.
>> germany is in the process of completely remodeling its energy infrastructure. this has become necessary after parliament decided to phase out nuclear power. more than a quarter of germany's electricity now comes from renewable sources of energy like wind power, for example. the bulk of germany's eco friend the electricity is now generated in the country's wind parks on the northern coast. demand for electricity is highest in the south of germany, where industrial plants have to be kept running. the electricity generated by wind power then has to be transported from high up in the north are down to the south. different countries are connected by europe's electricity grid, and in the past, neighboring countries found it easy to coordinate who would use the grid at what time and how much capacity was required.
that has changed. now if there is a strong wind on the german coast, this can create problems for germany's neighbors, such as the czech republic. >> the engineer in charge of the substation south of prague has problems, and they are getting worse. his lines power half the city. >> quite often, our technicians arrived to work and some equipment, and the control center tells them it will not let them work on it today. then we get a huge power overloads again and no one dares to take anything off the grid, so we cannot do any work on it. >> he goes on to say that the power grids in europe involve a constant give-and-take, and if one side only ever takes and never gives, it can sour
relations. the power grid often runs at its limits, and germany is to blame. this is a consequence of germany's phasing out nuclear power. northern germany's windfarms are supposed to replace the power generated by southern germany's nuclear plants. you're up close and power grids were only designed for steady current from power stations while current from wind energy tends to just randomly wash into the grid. these sudden power surges can cause problems for the aging chet power lines. more and more, the control center finds its power lines running hot.
>> the threat of a blackout is not only serious, it is very real. in late 2011 and early last year, we had to take every step available to prevent a black out -- really, every last set. at some point, all we could do was wait and see. so far, we have been lucky and scrape by, but the risk was extremely high. right now, we do not have any other means to prevent a black out. >> these emergency measures cost money. the czech has to shut down its own power plants or ask others for help, but it is they who have to foot the bill. >> we have to ask for help because the surplus flows over to us.
the problems ought to be solved at the point of origin where they are created. if we have to ask for help, the chip consumers should not have to pay for it. >> germany's neighbors say germany made its decision to phase out nuclear power unilaterally without consulting them, and now they are threatening to cut the power supply. germany is trying to smooth some ruffled feathers. >> we are not taking any chances that our neighbors will suffer any damage. it is understandable if our neighbors are taking action, but we do not think that will be necessary. we have adopted the measures with our great consumption plan, and once they have completed the famous ne line, that will relieve the situation a lot. >> but can germany's neighbors wait that long? farms are going online all the time. even the european wind energy association has been issuing stern warnings of far reaching
consequences for all europe. >> it is not just a czech problem. it is also largely a polish problem and to a large extent, a danish, dutch, and belgian problem. >> the e you cannot help. energy policies are partly made on the eu level, but the construction of power lines is subject to national law. this is why the czech energy ministry is unhappy. >> it is very hard to make progress here, to get it except that the approval of new power lines has to be subordinated to pan-european interests. at least when it is a matter of grids, that would affect all of europe. politically, that is hardly conceivable right now, and we
will never achieve a new european infrastructure this way. >> it is european regionalism -- when the wind blows in germany, the lines will keep running hot in the czech republic, so the czech republic is investing some 100 million euros to install phase shifters on the german border. they regulate the current. then, when too much current surges over from germany, the chip grid can simply turn it off, even if that blows some fuses in germany. >> 2013 is a so-called super election-year in austria, meaning that voters will go to the polls several times. regional parliaments are due to be elected in four of the country's states this spring, followed by the national election of the federal parliament this autumn. it will not be an easy campaign for the traditional parties. they face competition from a
political newcomer. some austrian politicians are reminded of a time in the early 1990's when a man came from the far right and meddled with the traditional austrian political landscape. he died four years ago, and his party has since lost some of its significance, but some former supporters have now found a new political home with a new party. >> he who has the gold makes the rules -- that was the model used when introducing the party in the timber. he was born into a poor family in austria but went to canada to make his millions. now he has returned to make a dramatic entrance on the political scene. >> i am certain that this is a very important day that will go down in austrian history. i also think it will go down in the history of the world.
>> the recent politician was born 80 years ago. he makes no bones about his views. in the summer, he campaigned against the european rescue fund. he was invited by an austrian broadcaster for an interview. them and they i ask you a short question to begin with? >> we do not have much time. >> yes, we do. >> i pay my taxes, and i demand the right to express myself so people can hear what i have to say. >> of course. but we have invited you here for a discussion. >> you want an argument. >> the founder of an international car supplier demands respect for the jobs he has created any money he has generously donated, but he does not care to mention his many
failed enterprises, the austrian subsidies he has received, or the fact that he pays a good portion of his tax abroad. he pushed for a training program for future ministers and a refuge for those who have been booted out. experts do not think much of his current manifesto. one policy is to introduce national bureaus with differ exchange rates depending on the financial situation of the respective countries. >> he wants a flat tax, what he calls a fair tax. he wants to tighten the law for asylum seekers. there are a lot of issues that he stole from the 1990's. >> the similarities to not end with policies. five mp's from the alliance for the future of austria have already joined him, sending his
party straight to parliament, although it has no votes. the party have accused him of buying their lesser-known mp's. two reported that he tried to bribe them. >> he offered 1 million euros. another was offered 15,000 euros a month for three years. then he too has the gold makes the rules after all. >> he was always part of the system. it is not as if he fell from the sky with his pockets full. he took full advantage of the political system in austria for many years. he had the former chancellor on his supervisory board, and he had former general secretaries and a finance minister. he made the whole system work for him, and he made a good business out of it. >> it seems to have paid off. according to surveys, his party
could make in 13% of the vote in next fall's elections. that is as many as the greens. his mp's furiously denied being bought. >> i would have paid money to join. i was frustrated that nothing was progressing in austria, and now there is a way to set things in motion. we have the necessary publicity and opportunities because he is financially independent. >> he is certainly not tied to convention. the 80-year-old addresses everyone informally. his followers find him refreshing. >> he is really the messiah of austria. he frees us from the politicians. >> i am working hard to change the system. we know that the system does not work. einstein always said that insanity was doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.
>> change is a welcome prospect, but it is not yet clear what will happen. a final manifesto will be put forward early next year. >> in the current crisis, many rich italians and greeks are worried they may lose their wealth in their home countries, but the economy continues to drag its feet, so they invest in houses and flats in germany's capital, berlin, where there are still objects available in top locations and for a relatively low price. high rents are now forcing berliners on low incomes to move to cheaper areas outside the city. rising rents are a problem people in paris and london have been familiar with for decades. in the british capital, you easily pay 600 and for an average flat per week. londoners traditionally spend more than 3/4 of their monthly income on rent, but there is an increasing number of people who
have had to look elsewhere. >> britain, like the rest of europe, is in the grips of recession, but there are hardly any traces of it in london. real-estate prices in the city center have shot up by 30% this year, and building continues. a penthouse in london's west end can easily fetch nearly 50 million euros. buyers include russians, chinese, arabs, and those fleeing europe. those who work in london usually live about an hour and a half outside the city. for many who cannot find work, their only refuge is the streets. arthur had a chicken farm in dorset and came here looking for work, but he cannot afford a flat. >> it was built for the rich, and it is still for the rich. the underclass is just left for dead, really.
hundreds of homeless people all over this part of the city. >> it came as a nasty shock that much of the luxury housing stands and the. many buyers are speculating on rising property prices. >> if it is anti, it should be used. it should be made illegal for it to sit and deep. there's always people with good ideas that have not got the money to be able to put it down in property. i personally want to see an end to interest of profit, to take all the greed and corruption out. >> arthur does not want to just give up and leave london, so he joined 60 others and squatted and empty office block. it is one of 450,000 unused buildings in london, and more and more often, people are making themselves at home in them. >> it is kind of a subculture underneath that. something bubbling under the surface of what seems like a very pretty city.
>> workshops, skill shares. it is quite huge. it is a building that has been mothballed. it has been left and the for quite some time. >> these squatters used to occupy private properties, but that was made an official offense in september of last year, but office space in industrial areas are not mentioned in the new law, so they moved here instead. arthur found a derelict building in one of the most expensive areas of london. the windows were open so they did not even have to break in. the law was meant to put an end to squatting. instead, it has added new headaches. the squatters found a loophole, and the government is none too happy about it. >> we do not live in a state where property is theft and
resources are allocated essentially by some central committee. that did not go very well on the other side of the aisle when they tried it, and i think we are in a much better place, and we should have proper social policies that address people who are casualties of society. >> he fought for the new law along with other british property managers. his job is all-encompassing. he goes before court, reports the legal situation and then serves the eviction notice to the squatters. >> it is an emergency service, just like a plumber. you have a leak, a bad tenant, you need to evict them, you call us. >> he will not be out of a job any time soon. he expects the number of squatters to grow as long as the government remains idle on social matters. >> totally understand it. until the government gets to grips with local councils and the housing shortage and build more properties up and help more
people make affordable housing, there will always be squatting. >> arthur is cautiously hunting around for a new space to occupy. his search takes place after dark as he gathers food that would otherwise end up in the trash. arthur took the eviction notice with grim acceptance. >> what was the working class and now the benefits class. the upper class are still there, but they have got rid of the middle-class. you have either got rich or poor. >> amid the glittering facades of the city center, more and more people living below the poverty line struggle to survive. >> that is all we have time for on today's european journal from brussels. thanks very much for watching. join us again next week if you can.